It’s a huge orchestra day for us in Naxos, with one session for the orchestra alone and a second session with some of the singers. Ariadne is a joy to play, truly written like chamber music – but then, all great music is chamber music, right? Yeah, that’s a nice thought when you’re studying Strauss’ intricate scores in your kitchen with a nice cup of coffee, but when you’re sitting at the celesta for Salome and you realize that you can neither see nor hear the people on the other side of the pit, it’s hard to zero in on anything chamber-y. Ariadne‘s forces are such that the musicians can truly hear each other, and can often have the chance to respond to the singers on stage like fellow soloists. There’s a high degree of independence possible in such a score, which is wonderful and a little scary.
Another scary thing about scheduling in a festival situation is what happens to the orchestra when the company is trying to open four shows in the space of ten days. Nobody gets a lovely opera house run of steady rehearsals building gradually and beautifully to the dress. All four show have weird gaps in their schedules. The orchestra is rehearsing every day but can go a week without touching a particular piece. There is so much information for them to remember collectively from rehearsal to rehearsal, for each of the four shows.
So, respect to our band! They’ll be the engine that takes us from a carousel in Maine to Nagasaki, from Naxos to Lycurgus, from 1907 to 2014, from Vienna to New York City.